The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Who Is the Power Broker?

The second episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier made several Marvel Cinematic Universe introductions. Fans got their first real introduction to the new Captain America, John Walker, and met his sidekick, Battlestar, and the forgotten Black super soldier Isaiah Bradley. In the midst of all of that, a single line of dialog revealed that Marvel Comics villain the Power Broker has a role to play in the Disney+ streaming series. Who is the Power Broker? That's a title held by two Marvel villains in the past, and one of them has a direct tie to John Walker.

The original Power Broker is Curtiss Jackson. The character first appeared in Machine Man #6 in 1978 as a member of the business-like criminal syndicate called The Corporation. He first took on the Power Broker mantle in The Thing #35 in 1986. Though Roger Stern and Sal Buscema created Jackson, the Power Broker is best known for his role in Mark Gruenwald's Captain America run. That's the same era that introduced John Walker, Battlestar, and Flag-Smasher.

Gruenwald applied a symbolic and satirical point of view to Jackson. As the Power Broker, the supervillain served to represent the growing fascination with fitness culture. With the help of evil scientist Karl Malus, Jackson developed a process by which he could enhance normal individuals with super-strength, indebting them to him. Among these subjects were John Walker, who would become the Super-Patriot, and Lemar Hoskins and two others who acted as Walker's "Buckies" in staged fights raising Super-Patriot's profile. Walker would eventually become the new Captain America and Hoskins the new Bucky before renaming himself Battlestar.

After Walker's fall from grace as Captain America, he became U.S. Agent. When the vicious vigilante organization called the Scourge of the Underworld targeted Jackson, he underwent his empowerment process, but something went wrong. He became musclebound to the point that he couldn't move on his own, needed an exoskeleton to support him. He tried to force Battlestar to undergo the process again to study him and find a cure, but the U.S. Agent arrived and shut the experiment down.

Jackson later somehow reverted his body to its previous form. Eventually, his enemies learned that Jackson was an agent of the Red Skull, who had returned from the dead. He was arrested by U.S. Agent during the Maximum Security event and later killed by the Punisher. Another Power Broker rose to take Jackson's place. He operated the mobile app called Hench, by which individuals could rent out villainous henchmen.

How will the Power Broker factor into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? At present, it seems he's responsible for the Flag-Smashers' super soldier-like enhancements. But it's also worth noting that there's no explanation thus far for why John Walker's body "test off the charts" at MIT or why he's as capable as he is with Cap's shield.

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